LSU gymnastics team digs deep, blows past Georgia _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Record crowds saw LSU’s gymnastics team perform last season. The Tigers host No. 1 Oklahoma to open the season Saturday.

Drugs, lemonade, Kool-Aid — whatever D-D Breaux chose to term it, her Tigers had it Friday night.

Down a senior all-arounder after an injury in warmups, LSU shook off mistakes on beam and floor to recapture momentum and posted a score of 198 for only the third time in program history, defeating No. 9 Georgia 198.075-196.850.

“Jessie Jordan kind of pulled something in her neck or upper back during the vaulting (warmup) rotation,” Breaux explained. “Told the kids, ‘We got a lemon, now we’re gonna make some lemonade.’ They rose to the occasion and did a fabulous job.”

Senior Rheagan Courville’s all-around winning 39.825 paced an electric lineup that wrestled away momentum on the balance beam after a tense, back-and-forth first two rotations sent the Tigers to the beam with only a .125 lead.

Courville’s score tied for the second-highest in program history, trailing only April Burkholder’s 39.875 from 2003.

“I really owe it to how much energy we had and how much energy we had coming off this week in practice,” Courville said, lauding the PMAC crowd of 7,722. “We wanted to have a breakout meet. I think we did that today. I fed off such a great lineup in front of me in everything.”

After Lloimincia Hall’s wobbly 9.750 beam set, freshman Myia Hambrick, who replaced Jordan, was nearly flawless, sticking her landing for a career high 9.900.

Classmate Erin Macadaeg followed, hitting for a career high 9.950 before Ashleigh Gnat hit a 9.90 to make it three straight career high hits.

“It wasn’t really a lot of pressure, but I felt like I owed it to Jessie to give it my best,” Hambrick said. “I think, you know, I did my best and the team did our best.”

Courville anchored beam with a 9.950, capping off a season-high 49.625 on the event, good for the second-highest balance beam score in LSU history.

Hambrick, who also set a career high with a 9.90 on vault, ran out of gas on floor, stumbling on two of her three tumbling passes to score a 9.050 in the second spot in the rotation.

Much like beam, the Tigers got three consecutive career-high performances following the routine — a 9.875 from Sydney Ewing before Gnat (9.950) and Courville (9.975) tied their career highs.

“Momentum is a really powerful drug,” Breaux said. “These kids were taking the drug tonight. I kept getting in their face, telling them: ‘Tell me you’re great, tell me you’re great.’ They would say, ‘I am great.’ ”

As is customary, Hall closed the meet on floor, even giving a nod to her inspiration sitting at the head table. She turned to LSU football coach Les Miles, sitting matside with his youngest daughter Macy, and gave him his patented hand clap as part of a dance pass.

The 10th-year football coach reciprocated the gesture and gave a fiery nod before Hall finished her 9.950 routine.

After her team scored a 197.425 at last week’s Metroplex Challenge but still finishing runner-up to No. 1 Oklahoma and now posting a 198 without a senior leader, Breaux gushed over her team’s continuity and depth that continues to be on display.

“They saw the No. 1 team in the country and saw what we needed to do,” Breaux said. “Here’s the benchmark. Here it is; that’s your hurdle. They answered that call.

“We’ve got great depth in this team, they’re drinking each other’s Kool-Aid. They really like each other.”